TV - Bored to Death

Bored to Death

Susan Omand urges you to watch Sky Atlantic in the middle of the night and discover a show that definitely won't leave you Bored to Death...

Way back in the mists of, well, 2011, a little half hour noirish detective comedy series hit UK TV screens and I became addicted. With quirky characters, a New York setting and some genius casting, Bored to Death ran for two seasons and then.... nothing. It just disappeared, even though I knew there was another season left to run. Well guess what? IT’S BACK!! I literally cheered as the Sky Nevermiss email came in saying that Sky Atlantic are running the final season of this gem of a show, which started this morning (admittedly in the middle of the night, 12:40am, so you'll find it on catch-up).

So what is it and why is it so good? Here’s the basic premise. Jonathan Ames is a writer, struggling with his second detective novel and drinking and smoking too much. Taking inspiration from a Raymond Chandler novel and a lot of white wine, he puts an ad on Craigslist offering his services as a private investigator, to try and get a few “stories” that he can tell in his book from the cases he tries to solve. Assisted (or hindered) by his best friend Ray, a comic book artist that also “lives” his creation Super Ray, much to the annoyance of his on-off girlfriend Leah, and Jonathan’s “father figure” and mentor of sorts, the even harder smoking and drinking magazine editor George Christopher, Jonathan goes through life trying to write, trying to solve the cases and trying to just keep his life together, all to a voiceover reminiscent of the noir detective films of old.

Bored to Death cast

What makes it so good then? Two things – the off the wall writing and the cast. Written by author, Jonathan Ames, he has made “himself” the star, ably played by Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Big Eyes) and you really don’t know how much of the plot is actually true, highly embellished fact or just pure fiction. It is by turns intelligent, farcical and sometimes just plain genius as the subtleties and nuances of the script are just as important as the obvious situational slapstick. And some of the situations are so ridiculous that they really have to have happened because you couldn’t make that stuff up. As for the rest of the cast, best friend Ray is played in geeky brilliance by the now highly bankable Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Birdman) and Leah is Heather Burns (You’ve Got Mail) and the dynamic between them as an on again/off again couple as the sensible Leah tries to cope with Ray’s ever increasing pot use and hair-brained schemes, such as getting money by selling sperm to a lesbian couple, is a joy to behold. However, the spotlight of the show must go to George Christopher, the hard drinking, easy living magazine editor played by... Ted Danson. Yes, really. Suave, debonair, charming, witty, drunken, hedonistic, larger than life, he plays the stereotypical high rolling editor with such style and class that you would let the character off with absolutely anything, and believe me, in some stories he really does get off with anything.

Bored to Death was cancelled after three seasons, so take this final opportunity from Sky Atlantic to catch an absolute gem before it disappears from the public consciousness completely.

[Addendum: It has now disappeared from the public consciousness of Sky Atlantic but is available on DVD and Digital platforms - Ed]

Image - IMDb

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